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HCA Profit Falls, Yet Tops Estimate; Details Weak FY Outlook - Update

Health care services provider HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA), Tuesday reported a sharply lower fourth-quarter profit, hurt by legal charges, and absence of huge one-time gains recorded a year ago. Meanwhile, revenues increased nine percent on higher patient utilization at its facilities. The company's quarterly earnings, nonetheless, topped Wall Street estimates.

HCA through its subsidiaries operates hospitals, diagnostic and imaging centers, and other facilities. The Nashville, Tennessee-based company reported fourth-quarter net income of $314 million or $0.68 per share, compared with $1.94 billion or $4.25 per share in the prior year.

Results for the quarter included, among other items, pretax legal claim costs of $175 million, as a Missouri judge in January ruled in favor of a nonprofit health foundation in a lawsuit against the company.

The prior-year quarter included a pretax gain on the acquisition of a controlling interest in an equity investment of $1.5 billion, and pretax gains on sale of facilities of $145 million.

Excluding items, adjusted earnings for the quarter were lower at $0.91 per share, compared with $0.94 per share last year.

On average, 24 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.82 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

HCA reported quarterly revenues of $8.4 billion, compared with $7.7 billion in the prior year quarter.

Analysts on consensus estimated revenues of $8.99 billion for the quarter.

Growth for the quarter stemmed mainly from higher patient utilization at its facilities and the financial consolidation of its healthONE joint venture.

On a consolidated basis, equivalent admissions for the quarter increased 7.1 percent, while admissions increased 6.0 percent compared to the prior year period. Revenue per equivalent admission edged up 1.4 percent, and inpatient revenue per admission slid 0.3 percent.

For fiscal year 2013, HCA expects adjusted earnings of $3.00 to $3.30 per share and revenues of $33.50 billion to $34.50 billion.

Analysts currently estimate earnings of $3.46 per share on revenues of $37.52 billion.

HCA is trading at $37.44, down 0.45%, on a volume of over 5 million shares on the NYSE.

by RTT Staff Writer

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